Durban rocked

Ethel Nyembe, Standard Bank’s Head of Small Business Enterprise

Following the launch of the inaugural SMME Opportunity Roadshow in Joburg this year, and the very well-received event in Port Elizabeth, the most recent delivery, hosted at the Durban International Convention Centre on 18 August, was an even bigger hit.

SMME Programme Director, Tumelo Mothotoane, jubilant performer, public speaker and SABC1 anchor, kept the crowd on its feet with her great sense of humour and sharp comments.

And the stellar line-up of speakers, which included the likes of Ethel Nyembe (Standard Bank’s Head of Small Business Enterprise), Gerrit Davids (Lead Advisor at TiranisCO Advisory), Bridgitte Kriel (Project Director for Small and Medium Practices at SAICA), Wilfred Mbvuha (Credit Head; Small Enterprise at Standard Bank), Tshidi Mahlangu (Manager: Global Corporate Accounts, SAA) and Matsi Modise (entrepreneurship activist and co-founder of Emerge), certainly did not disappoint.

The very eloquent Nyembe, who spoke about access to finance, said her topic in particular is one of the main reasons why SMMEs in South Africa eventually do not succeed. She advised SMME owners to make sure that they know the impact of their existence.

“I stand here in awe of what you all are able to do, because together with my team at Standard Bank, we run our division as entrepreneurs, forever thinking about what those great ideas are that we need to be thinking about to make your lives easier.”

Nyembe said SMEs contribute toward more than 45% of South Africa’s total GDP – and around 60% of all South African workers are employed by small businesses employing fewer than 50 people. “This means that a significant portion of all new jobs are created by SMEs. The South African unemployment rate is 24.2% as at December 2014 and forecasted growth in GDP by 2015 is at 2.1%, and 2.7% by 2016. This is an increased challenge in terms of job creation. Corporates and large businesses are unable to create these jobs – this challenge brings opportunity,” she told delegates.

She said that Standard Bank has over the years listened to the plight of small business. “As SMEs, your livelihood is dependent on the success of your business. You face numerous challenges as you fight for business sustainability. Your focus is to ensure that all aspects of the business run efficiently. We understand that.”

Therefore, Nyembe said, Standard Bank is in a prime position to help small businesses in South Africa to manage their business. She told delegates it is of utmost importance for SMME’s to:


  • Know the products or services that their small business will offer;
  • Know their market and competition;
  • Understand the risks and benefits of the legal forms of business organisation;
  • Review their small business risks (insurance needs);
  • Manage legal barriers;
  • Determine their costs; and
  • Consider their break-even points, cash flow and funding options.


Kriel, whose topic was ‘The fundamentals of sustaining and growing SMME’, spoke passionately about the main reason for small business failures, and issues around cash flow problems. She urged the audience to make use of all the assistance available to ensure that their businesses reach their full potential. “We really need you as SMMEs to speak with a loud voice about what your practical challenges are,” she said.

Agreeing with most other speakers that cash flow is one of the main reasons for businesses failing, she advised delegates to do and monitor their cash flow forecasts regularly.

According to Davids, who spoke on the ‘Key Principles of Tendering’, incorrect tendering is often the result of SMMEs missing out on winning contracts, and provided sound advice to the audience on the different stages of tendering. In his presentation he provided valuable insights regarding the different stages of tendering and offered in-depth knowledge of what SMMEs can expect when they tender for new business.

Ludwe Fanie, Community Marketing Manager at the East London Industrial Development Zone Science and Technology Park (ELIDZSTP), told delegates that Science and Technology Parks (STPs) have a lot to offer entrepreneurs and that especially SMMEs should take full advantage of the services of STPs.

He set out the objectives of STP’s as follows:


  • To create an exchange between industrial, scientific, and artistic minds;
  • To have an infrastructure supporting the growth of today’s global knowledge economy;
  • To enhance entrepreneurship, talent and economic competitiveness;
  • To establish an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation;
  • To leverage the assets of non-university research and development organisations such as laboratories;
  • To attract companies that wish to leverage the expertise of researchers and to gain access to highly specialized facilities and equipment; and
  • To provide a launch pad that starts up what companies need when "spun out” from varsity or company.


“The ELIDZSTP in particular offers networks, business facilities, business support and incubation to young start-up companies. With the intention to stimulate SMME growth, we support industrial research and development in the region; stimulate, organise and manage transfer of knowledge and technology from the knowledge custodians to companies and market place; drive quality and compliance with industry standards; and inspire a culture of excellence and innovation,” Fanie said.

Unmistakably one of the highlights of the event was the surprise announcement by SAA’s Tshidi Mahlangu to give away two double tickets to any destination in South Africa.

Mbvuha, who spoke about the importance of being credit ready, praised the SMME Opportunity Roadshow, saying; “The experience was very good. It gave us the opportunity to interact with our clients and potential clients.”

In interviews with the mainstream media, Lindsay King, Editor of Opportunity magazine, said Cape Media Corporation is extremely happy with the way the event panned out.

“Next year we will do even better. There has been enormous interest in the event and this is an indication of the great need in South Africa to educate, uplift and grow small and medium enterprises. It’s a great honour for us to demonstrate the magazine’s conscience in this manner,” he said.

King attributes the success of the event to among others, the fact that they decided to run roadshows, opposed to hosting a single event in one of the country’s major cities. “Taking the event to the people was by far the best idea,” he concluded.







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